Coleraine teacher calls for defibrillators in all schools

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A local teacher is urging politicians to make Coleraine a national leader by installing defibrillators in all schools and training people to use them.

Jacquie Reid, Deputy General Secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was speaking as Northern Ireland’s Chest Heart and Stroke Association recently announced its support of new research by the Ulster University which would allow heart problems to be spotted during a trip to the optician.

“The necessity of this provision was also highlighted recently in a school in York where a teenager’s life was saved because staff at the school had access to and training in how to use a defibrillator,” she said.

“Here in Northern Ireland whilst we have great research into heart conditions we also have great need. About one in 20 cases of sudden cardiac death and up to one in five young sudden cardiac deaths are attributed to sudden arrhythmia death syndrome (SADS) and over the years an alarming number of these deaths have been among young sports men and women.

“Medical experts believe many children could be saved if a defibrillator was used within minutes of collapse. However, there is currently no national system in place in the UK to ensure defibrillators are on school premises.

“We would love the Department of Education and Department of Health to make Northern Ireland a national leader by turning our schools into life-saving community hubs and installing a defibrillator as well as funding training in their use in every school here.

“To date, only about a fifth of our schools across NI have these devices, despite the fact that the premises are used by so many people of all ages every day and evening. An investment like this would be an investment in the health and future of our communities.

“We would urge the politicians to have a heart and make this support available.”